Hindsight is 20/20. Few adages are more true, and prisons are filled with men who learned this lesson the hard way. If you are charged with a crime, any attorney won’t do. You need the best possible attorney, one with extensive experience and a high success rate with cases like yours. Most people will never be charged with a crime or have reason to hire a defense attorney. However, America does have the highest incarceration rate in the world. The NAACP reports that of American males aged 18 and up: 1 of every Caucasians, 1 of every 36 Hispanics, and 1 of every 15 African Americans is incarcerated. Many of those people never saw it coming.
Why Should You Hire a Criminal Attorney?
The primary reason you should hire a criminal attorney is because your freedom and your future are at stake. Consider it this way: If you had a brain tumor, you’d go straight to a neurologist specializing in oncology, would you not? You certainly wouldn’t go to a dermatologist or an OB/GYN. They wouldn’t know what to do with you! Just as is the case with medicine, attorneys tend to specialize in different areas of the law. While it’s true they study a bit of everything in law school, by the time they’ve spent a decade or two working in a particular niche, it’s that niche they know best. Therefore, if you wish to write a will, go to an attorney who specializes in estate planning. If you need a divorce, go to a divorce attorney. If you’re charged with a crime, you should only consider hiring the best criminal defense attorney available.
What are the Advantages of Hiring an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney?
There are a number of excellent reasons to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney when accused of a crime. Many cases are won or lost on technicalities. You’ll want to make certain your attorney knows the law inside out.
An experienced criminal defense attorney is connected to others within the legal system. Your case won’t be his first trip to court. He knows the procedure, the courtroom personnel, the judges, the jury selection process and the loopholes.
- Experienced attorneys know know how to strategize, and how to optimize your chances for winning your case.
- Experience helps attorneys spot inconsistencies that can work in your favor.
- If the accusation against you involves drugs, you will want to look for an attorney with a successful track record with drug cases. If you’re charged with a white collar crime, there are attorneys who specialize in that, too. The same is true when the death of another human being is involved. It cannot be over-emphasized: Hire an attorney who has proven he can win the kind of case being levied against you.
What’s the Best Way to Find the Best Criminal Defense Attorney?
Having little experience in finding an experienced criminal defense attorney, many people initially are daunted by the prospect. However, it need not be intimidating. Criminal defense attorneys are well-aware that many of their clients are bewildered by the whole legal process, and you should find they’ve taken steps to be visible in your time of need. The following steps will serve as a guide in showing you how to hire a good criminal attorney.
- Do what works for everything else: Google it. Type “criminal defense attorney” and your city and state into the search box. Use paper and pen and start making notes. In addition to name and contact info, leave room to note whether they offer a free initial consultation (many do), what they charge, their success rate with cases such as yours, and anything else you feel is pertinent.
- Also, search using the name of individual firms and the word “reviews.” Check with Yelp, Angie’s List, the Better Business Bureau and your state’s bar association.
Ask friends and family for recommendations.
- Go to the courthouse and watch some cases being tried. Often, seeing an attorney in action is helpful in making a choice.
Once you’ve narrowed the field, schedule initial appointments to meet the attorneys who made the cut. Be prepared. Take all relevant information concerning your case with you, such as papers you were provided by the court, bail documents, police reports, etc. Bring a list of other people who are pertinent to your case, such as the names and addresses of victims, witnesses, and any other defendants. Go prepared to take notes. Remember, it is important to feel the attorney is sincere, capable, and someone with whom you can establish rapport. You should not hesitate to ask for any of the following information.
- References. Often speaking with others the attorney has represented will provide a sense of whether this person is the right one for you.
- Ask to be provided with the attorney’s retainer agreement. Take it home with you to read and make note of any questions you might have. You should feel free to ask questions about anything you don’t understand.
- Ask what they think might be the likely outcome of your case. While you don’t want to hire someone who will lie to you and get your hopes up, you also don’t to hire an attorney who doesn’t have confidence in their ability to succeed.
Make sure the attorney you retain is one who explains things in such a way that you’re able to understand them. This is particularly true if you lack a basic understanding of how the legal system works. Hire a local attorney if at all possible. Although some may find the attorney choosing process stressful, it is important to take your time and do the job well. When your freedom is on the line, settle for nothing less than the most competent attorney available.
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